Members of the Vietnam Veterans Organization of Carbon County assembled at the Vietnam War Memorial on West Broadway in Jim Thorpe to commemorate the 48th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War and the 13 men from Carbon County who were killed in action during that war.
The main speaker for the ceremony, which was coordinated by Past Commander Harry J. Wynn III, was Major General Jay Barry, U.S. Air Force Reserve Retired, incoming president of the Vietnam Veterans Organization of Carbon County.
"The event this evening is to commemorate the beginning of the Vietnam War and also to commemorate those who lost their lives, those who served, and those who still are with us today who are Vietnam veterans," Barry said.
"Veterans have a special place in the heart of America and Vietnam veterans have an even more special place. The time in Vietnam was a time of turmoil in this nation. Throughout it all, those of us who served in Vietnam persevered. We held our heads high. We were proud to serve," said Barry.
He pointed out an inscription on the monument which states "Our sons, our, brothers our friends in honor of their courage and sacrifice."
"Courage, without a doubt," said Barry. "Sacrifice, certainly. Those are words that mean something to each and every person who's ever worn a uniform."
Barry recalled that soldiers of the era came back to a nation divided.
"Scorned, worse than that, spit at in the streets. We persevered. We held our heads high," said Barry.
"Then finally, the nation's conscious turned. After Desert Storm, returning veterans were welcomed. We showed the nation the real way to treat its veterans returning from service, a change that began with the courage on the battlefield, the courage to come home and hold your head high," he added.
"This is a time when courage is required of our nation's leaders. We have signifiant problems that need to be dealt with. Americans in uniform have never, ever, on the battlefield turned our back when this nation called us. We've always been there.
"Vietnam veterans epitomize that courage, the leadership required during a time when our nation was certainly divided. We ask right now that our political leadership please show some courage," said Barry.
"Those of us in this nation are very proud of our heritage and very proud of the men and women who wear uniforms. We look at this great nation and we see such wonderful possibilities. We see the American Dream.
"From all of us who've ever worn a uniform, whether it be Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or Desert Storm 1 and 2, you all have our thanks. This is a great nation and we expect to keep it that way. With your help and courage, we'll do exactly that."
After Barry finished speaking, Adjutant Ronald Neff read aloud the names of the 13 men from Carbon County who were killed in action during the Vietnam War.
They are, from the Lansford area: Anthony R. Giannangeli, William C. Whitehead Jr., and Michael P. Pavlocak Jr.; from the Lehighton area: Ronald S.H. Christman, Leon D. Eckhart, and Clyde R. Houser Jr.; from the Palmerton area: Neal G. Bollinger, and Clifford L. Sell; from Parryville: Charles R. Jones; from Summit Hill: George M. Bevich Jr.; and from the Weatherly area: Edward N. Beers, Paul Hunter and Samuel O'Donnell.
Also remembered were the deceased members of Vietnam Veterans Organization of Carbon County: Ronald J. Serina, Chester Gieniec and John S. Kobal.
The commemoration ceremony came to an end with a firing squad salute of the dead, followed by taps.